Homemade from scratch caramel sauce is one of those items where I can really tell a difference if it is homemade, or comes from a jar. Don’t get me wrong, I like both versions, but I much prefer this one to any other. It just tastes fresher and more “home grown” than the processed stuff that comes in a jar.
Making scratch caramel sauce can be frustrating as you are getting a feel for it. The sugar can burn. It can seize up. It can take a long time. You can have some residual chunks. Once you get a feel for the temperature, the process, and the technique, you will never turn back.
Start off with your best heavy-bottomed, light-colored pan. I used a non-stick in the photos, but that is not advised. Make sure there is nothing lingering in it. I always give mine a good wipe with a paper towel, even if it has been freshly scrubbed. Put in your sugar and put your pan over medium heat.
Now, you wait. Wait until the edges start to melt and get bubbly, or you see some spots in the middle getting melty. Then using a heat resistant utensil, pull the sugar from the outer edges into the middle. Don’t stir too much or too soon, or you will get this.
I get a bit impatient when I am making caramel. It happens every time. The goal is to stir enough so that none of it burns, but not enough to create that chunky mess. It is okay though. With a little patience, and slow stirring, that mess will turn into this.
And then this.
When the sugar is fully melted and about the color of an old copper penny, reduce the heat to medium low and quickly add your butter and stir, stir, stir, stir. Remove from the heat and add ½ cup of heavy cream and stir to combine. Pour the whole thing into a mason jar, or other sturdy glass bowl, and let cool. Stir in some vanilla if you like it!
Some tips for caramel making.
• BE CAREFUL!!! Melted sugar is about the equivalent temperature to molten lava. If it splashes on you, you won’t like it.
• Have your ingredients ready, and waiting for you within arm’s reach. Caramel doesn’t wait for you to go hunting for ingredients.
• If the sugar smells burnt at all, start over. Burnt caramel cannot be fixed. One cup of sugar is fairly cheap. When you start adding butter and cream into the mix, it gets more expensive to toss. Butter and cream will not fix burnt flavor.
• Use softened butter.
• After you pour your caramel sauce into a dish to cool, fill your pan with water and put it back on the stove over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. Makes cleanup much easier!
• If this takes a few tries to get right, try not to get too frustrated. Sugar is finicky. You can do it!
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Place sugar in heavy bottomed pan over medium to medium-high heat. Watch carefully.
- When sugar begins to melt, slowly stir to prevent burning.
- After sugar is melted fully, reduce heat and add softened butter, stir well.
- Remove from heat and add cream.
- Stir until combined and add vanilla.
- Store in the fridge after the caramel has cooled.
Place caramel sauce over many things from cinnamon buns to apple pie, vanilla ice cream, ice cream sundays, chocolate treats, nuts, and popcorn. Of course, eat in moderation as this treat is ALL sugar, but oh-so-relish!